Happy This Week

I don’t know what I’m going to do when I don’t get a card or present in the mail every day!!! I’m so spoiled by my friends…thank you!!!

Dinners for our family started this week. It has been so very helpful especially since I’ve been feeling like crap and can’t really use my left side. Matt is trying to keep up with everything I normally do, so it’s nice for him not to worry about dinner.

I was able to go to my girls’ basketball game with a friend on Monday. I was exhausted by the time I got home but it was worth it! It was so good to see some of my students and they were so happy to see me.

I love getting “I miss you” emails from my students. If they only knew how much I missed them too!!!

I have been watching Gilmore Girls this week and I’m obsessed! How on earth did I miss that show the first time around??? It’s just wonderful.

House of Cards is back, baby!!! Bring on the Underwoods!!!

Matt and I are attempting a date night tonight!!

I read some really great books this week that I can’t wait to share with you!!

What made you happy this week?

Cancer Chronicles III: Finally Some Good News!

I have been waiting to post about my surgery until I got my results. Well they’re finally in and it’s all good news!

My lymph nodes were negative for cancer! They removed four nodes and all of them, including the sentinel node, was free. WOO HOO!

My tumor was as small as they thought (about 2 cm) and the margins were clean all around the tumor. Another WOO HOO!!!

I am so happy to get some good news amongst this bad diagnosis. HOORAY!!!

Surgery was rough. I’m feeling better every day. I thought I would be back to work sooner than I will be able to. Yesterday I thought I was feeling so great so I went to my girls’ basketball game with a friend. I was there for about an hour and a half and was exhausted and hurting by the time I got home. So much for going back to my 9 hour teaching work days soon! I’m hoping for Tuesday. I did manage to get a shirt on over my head today and that is BIG NEWS! My hair and everything else is another story, however. Matthew asked me if I was going to stay in pjs forever so I decided to at least start getting dressed even though pjs are way easier. ;) I’m anxious to get back to the gym and being able to use my left side and be able to make it through the day without needing rest!!! (I’m impatient…I know.)

I meet with my oncologist on Monday to discuss the next phase which will be chemo. I thought radiation was next but it sounds like chemo is first and radiation after that. I’ll know more after Monday. I wish my appointment was tomorrow! I swear, all of this waiting is hard on a family! Speaking of, all of you prayer warriors and well-wishers out there, please say a prayer for my husband. He’s, of course, having a really hard time with all of this. He could use the extra good stuff if you don’t mind.

I’m so relieved to have some good news. It’s still a long road ahead but the prognosis is so very good!!! Hallelujah!!!

Again and again and again, thank you so much for all of your prayers, good wishes, cards, texts, emails, presents and love. We are so humbled by everything. Thank you.

Cancer Chronicles II: Mentally Tough

When I first found out I had cancer, I just assumed the hardest part would be the physical part. You know…chemo, radiation, surgery, all that. I have no doubt that it will be painful and immensely unenjoyable. That’s pretty much guaranteed.

There are so many thoughts and blog posts in my head about all of this, I don’t even know where to start.

I was ill-prepared for how mentally difficult this journey would be. Ever since my doctor found the lump, I have been a mental mess. I am distracted, I am disoriented, I am sad, I am angry, I am scared, I am a little bit of a mess. On top of all of the appointments and phone calls and paperwork and research, there are three little people I am very worried about. Is Matthew quieter than usual? Is it because of me? Is Gabe a little more ornery than usual? Is Olivia acting out because of me? And my husband. And my Mom. And my BFF. I see their worried faces and all I can think is that all of this is my fault. I hate putting that look on their faces. I hate missing school and having my students worry about me. I hate having cancer.

Everyone in my life has been so supportive and wonderful. It’s honestly unreal. My friends, family and students have set up meals, sold and bought t-shirts, painted and decorated my room, sent me cards and presents and texts. The support and love has been overwhelming and humbling. I am so lucky to have all of these wonderful people in my life. I don’t know how I’ll ever thank them enough or give all of this love back in return.

My surgery is Thursday. I am scared of what they’ll find. I’m scared of how much time I’ll miss from work. I’m scared of what I will look like after surgery. I’m scared and scared and scared. It’s a struggle, honestly, to get up and go to work every day and keep trudging on. I pretty much would like to sleep for the next year until this is all over. It’s too much and too scary and too exhausting. But I will keep getting up and making myself go to work and get through my day. I have to. But I was not prepared for how mentally difficult this would be. I’m hoping once everything gets started, and we have some semblance of a routine and normalcy, I’ll feel better. We’ll all feel better. At least I hope so.

I know this is a mess of a post but that’s where my head is at right now. I have so many feelings and so much to say and I don’t know how to say it. All I know is I can do this. I will. I have to.

Happy This Week

I was gone from school last Friday for Olivia’s surgery and when I got back, my friends and colleagues at work had decorated my room. Check this out.

my room

My friend, Glenn, painted my wall pink! I love it!! My friends decorated my room and had everyone sign the sign…my students signed the “We love you!” sign. It was amazing. I love coming in my room every day and feeling the support from my school.

Gabe’s team took runner-up at their basketball tournament last weekend!

Matthew and I made the cutest Minecraft Valentines for his party today.

My Mom was getting ready to leave our house the other day and Olivia says “Now get the hell out of here!” and laughs and laughs. We know it’s not appropriate but it’s hysterical. She certainly doesn’t mean it…she just knows it’s funny. She uses curse words so appropriately!!!

My Mom gave me a beautiful Origami Owl necklace. It came in such cute packaging too!

The kids went over to my Mom’s for dinner on Wednesday and Matt and I got to hang out just the two of us. That’s always a treat!

What made you happy this week?

Books I’ve Read Lately

You know what helps take your mind off of cancer? Escaping in your books!!! Here are some books I’ve lost myself in lately…

Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

I really liked this book. It was so unique and interesting. Julia is a 12-year-old girl who is living during the time of the “slowing”. All of a sudden the earth is turning at a slower rate and the days are getting longer. There are long periods of dark and light and no one knows what that means for the future of mankind. Birds are falling out of the sky, it’s harder to kick a soccer ball because gravity is messed up and humans are starting to get sick too. The story follows Julia along this journey of the unknown.

This book does a great job of intertwining several different facets of Julia’s teenage life along with her parents’ troubling marriage, her grandfather’s disappearance and the changes made by the slowing. It is kind of freaky to think about something apocolyptic happening.

Here are some of my favorite passages that really resonated with me at this moment in my life:

Later, I would come to think of those first days as the time when we learned as a species that we had worried over the wrong things…but I guess it never is what you worry over that comes to pass in the end. The real catastrophes are always different—unimagined, unprepared for, unknown.

It seemed somehow surprising that the hours continued to pass in spite of what I knew. It was almost shocking that time did not, in fact, stop.

Time’s Edge (Chronos Files Book 2) and Time’s Echo: Chronos Files Novella by Rysa Walker

I wrote about Times’ Edge Book 1 a while ago and this latest book in the series just came out and did not disappoint. She also released the novella that serves as an “in between” the two novels. This is the series about Kate, a teenaged time-traveler who is trying to save the world from her evil grandfather. It’s a bit confusing if you try and keep up with all of the time-traveling logistics, so I just let it go. The story is fantastic. In this part of the series, Kate is trying to collect the time-traveling keys so her grandfather can’t have them and use them for evil. She also is trying to get Trey to fall back in love with her after the last time shift that made him forget her…and she’s fighting off feelings for Kiernan too. This series is also so unique and fast-paced and action-packed. I love it and can’t wait for the next one.

Everything Burns by Vincent Zandri

This was part of the Amazon “first look” choices. Is anyone else an Amazon Prime member who gets these free first-look books (sometimes two!) each month? I love it. That’s how I discovered Rysa Walker above, actually! sometimes the ones I choose are stinkers, but this one was great. When Reece, the main character, was a boy, his mother and brothers were killed in a fire. Throughout his life since the fire, he has struggled with his obsession with fire and mental illness. Now he’s a famous writer who just recently reconnected with his ex-wife when everything goes awry. Is his ex-wife/girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend stalking them and trying to hurt them? Is Reece going insane? It’s action-packed with many twists and turns that keep you guessing through the whole book. It was a quick, fun, entertaining read.

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

This was on my Pinterest board for a while and I finally checked it out. Even though this book is an award-winner, I thought it was just ok. Maybe I’m on Serial overload or something, but I just didn’t love this book. The book is written in screenplay style by the main character, Steve, a teenager who is in jail and on trial for murder. It was a quick read, and it wasn’t a bad book, but I just didn’t love it. I guess I’m just not sure what all the fuss is about.

Fear Nothing by Lisa Gardner

You can always count of Gardner for a great murder mystery and this one did not disappoint. The story focuses on two sisters who are daughters of a mass murderer. The one sister, Shana, became a murderer herself at 14. The other sister, Adeline, became a psychiatrist and also was born unable to feel pain. Adeline finds herself back in touch with her sister and trying to help Detective D.D. Warren solve a current murder spree that is eerily familiar.

I couldn’t put this one down. It’s a little gory, thrilling and keeps you guessing until the end. If you like murder mysteries, I would highly recommend this one!

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I saved the best for last. If you haven’t read this book yet, stop everything, go get it and carve about about 6-8 hours to read it straight. I wish everyone, everyone, everyone would read this book. It’s marvelous. Auggie is a fifth grader who’s about to attend real public school for the first time. He’s been homeschooled his whole life due to medical issues. Auggie was born with a congenital facial deformity that caused his face to be, well, hideous. He has had many, many surgeries and is now healthy enough, and (hopefully) emotionally ready, to attend school. The book follows Auggie through his first year at school and it’s told from the perspective of Auggie himself, his sister Via and his classmates and friends. It is a wonderful story of how people are just people, no matter if they’re different from everyone else. I don’t need a happy ending, but I loved the way this one ended.

This book is truly wonderful. I hope you’ll check it out.

What have you read lately?

We Rise By Lifting Others

Dear sweet friends of Elastamom,

Hi there! I’m Sarah and I am guest posting on her blog today!

Quickly, let me share my my connection with Tiffany: Turn time back to 1999, and I am fairly certain I walked into her classroom as a freshman with overly “sun in’d” short hair, big ol’ silver braces, clunky Dr. Marten sandals, with my hand-me-down Abercrombie and Fitch attire. I was a total dork trying to fit it. Immediately I knew I had a super cool teacher and we would be friends at some point in our lifetime. The rest is history! I adore this woman, and I have been blessed to have her in my life for so long.

As most of you have probably read, Tiffany was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. This news is not only unfortunate, but downright gut-wrenching. It is with great comfort we know that Tiffany is under the care of amazing doctors, and she has a kick ass support system! Yet, the pain and the anger, and the daily burdens of life with cancer are still there. It’s so hard to fathom that in the mix of “normal” life, (whatever normal looks like) now, Tiffany will be dealing with the cancer life too.

Locally, different efforts are being made to raise money and provide meals for Tiffany and her family. However, I wanted to make sure all her faithful blogger friends had the chance to participate, should the desire arise. Bethany Gurzynski at Toledo Threads designed a shirt for Tiffany so we can show our love and support! If you want a shirt, please click on the link below.

http://teespring.com/Sylvania

shirt

Let’s love on this family during this tough time and especially on this resilient, authentic, amazing woman.

WE RISE BY LIFTING OTHERS!!!

Thank you!!!

Happy This Week

It’s been a rough week, I’m not going to lie. The mental part of this whole journey is ┬áreally tough. I’m sure the physical parts will be tough too, but I was anticipating that. But…I still found some happy this week!!!

My students and coworkers and friends and neighbors have overwhelmed us (in a good way) with love and support. Every day we’ve received a little something to make us smile or know we are loved or help us out in some way.

Olivia had four teeth removed today and she did very well. She’s a little out of it and her mouth is swollen, but other than that, she did great!

Starbucks coffee makes me smile almost every day. Thank goodness for gift cards to enable my vice.

My friends and their husbands joined Matt and I last weekend for Trapped Toledo. It’s basically where you’re locked in a room with a mystery to solve. We had dinner before hand and went out to the bar after. We didn’t get home until 2! It was a blast and just what Matt and I needed!

Stacia, a blogging friend, had a clay Elastamom made for me. I was so touched by this gift. We have it hanging on our calendar in the kitchen to remind us all that we are tough and will get through this.

My former student and friend, Leah, made us a beautiful collage of the kids’ pictures, our family picture and the words “All you need is love” on a canvas through Shutterfly and had it sent to us. We put it in the hall so we can see it every morning and remember that, love, is truly all we need.

My friend, Andrea, who is our 8th grade school counselor, talked to my students on Tuesday when I was out so they would know what was going on. I am so thankful to her for doing that for me because I don’t think I could have done it without bawling and I didn’t want them to see me upset.

I was inundated with cards, emails, etc., from my students when I came back on Wednesday. They are the best and help me take my mind off of things even if just for a few minutes.

One of my boys went home and told his mom, late after his orchestra concert, that they had to make me cupcakes. (His mom owns a local bakery company and makes the most amazing cupcakes…”Cake Me Away” in Perrysburg, OH) He brought me a hug and a dozen pink cupcakes the very next day.

One of my girls made me balloons with magnets on the back that say “Be Happy”, “Be Positive”, “Be Strong”. Definitely need that reminder each day!

My coworkers and Matt’s coworkers gave us a ton of gift cards to help us through this journey. We are so thankful for their love and support.

Matthew was selected as “Bobcat Best” this week at his school. He gets to have breakfast with the principal. He was so excited and it couldn’t have come at a better time!

Matt bought me a “Stefon” mug (our favorite SNL character) from the NBC store to cheer me up. It worked.

I’d say there was still a lot of happy this week, wouldn’t you? What made you happy this week?

Cancer Chronicles I: Good Bad News

Cancer Chronicles brought to you by Elastamom’s Experts…whattya think?? I promise my blog will still be about my family and my special girl, but it’s also going to be about cancer now. It’s my new reality and, just like being a Mom of a daughter with special needs, I want to share and help anyone who needs it.

I had my appointment at the University of Michigan yesterday. We got 14 inches of snow between Saturday and Monday morning so we were nervous we wouldn’t be able to make it there. But we did! It was a little treacherous but we made it. Thank goodness because I just wanted to get it over with.

I had another mammogram and an ultrasound when we got there. (By the way…almost all of my doctors were 12. Seriously.) Then we met with a doctor who told us our treatment plan. My cancer is stage 2, which is worse than I thought, but it’s still early and small. I have to have chemo, which I was really hoping I wouldn’t, but I do. For a year. Yes. A year. I am HER2 positive so that’s why I have to have chemo for that long. But it’s only every three weeks for now. I decided to have a lumpectomy after looking at all the pros and cons. That will be followed by six weeks of radiation every day. And chemo.

When they do my lumpectomy, they’ll do a sentinel node biopsy to see how at risk I am for recurrence. If I’m at increased risk, they’ll add another chemo to my HER2 chemo. I may also have to have a mastectomy down the road depending on results, but we’re going to try the lumpectomy first. Like my surgeon said, we can always go forward but we can’t go back. When I’m all done, because I tested positive for hormone receptors (which is a good thing!), I’ll take a medicine for the next five to ten years that will also lessen the chance of recurrence.

We are completely overwhelmed, a little angry (I lied…a lot…), scared and still in a little bit of denial. We keep asking each other “Is this really happening?”. We have cried often, but laughed even more. We are absolutely swamped with love and support and it feels so good. We are so blessed to have an amazing family, wonderful friends and a fantastic community who love us and will help us in any way that we need. Right now we’re not really sure what we need, but when we do, everyone will be there for us and, that, is just a feeling you can’t measure.

To all of you who have sent us messages, texts, phone calls, cards, gifts, etc….we can’t thank you enough. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers…we can feel it!!

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My dear friend, Bethany, has a t-shirt company online and has made t-shirts for a fundraiser for myself and my friend, Melinda, who is also battling breast cancer. If you’d like to buy one (they are awesome!), see the link below.

http://teespring.com/Sylvania

Happy This Week

I took Olivia with me to my nail appointment on Saturday. She got her first manicure. She really enjoyed getting them done but she promptly picked it all off on the way home! I guess she didn’t like the way it felt. But she enjoyed the experience!!

We also went to the Walleye (local Toledo hockey) game on Saturday. It was Olivia’s first time and she loved it. She got to meet all of the mascots and loved it when the players banged against the glass. She also got a huge kick out of the screaming contests!

We went out for pizza on Wednesday night. It was so nice to just sit and relax on a school night, just the five of us.

My friends yarn-bombed my front and backyard and hung up a lighted LOVE sign in the backyard. It was a nice surprise to wake up to Tuesday morning!!! Some of my friends changed their profile picture on FB to the LOVE picture. I feel very loved.

I’ve gotten a few letters and emails and FB messages from former students who wanted me to know they were praying for me. It’s so nice to know I made a difference in their life!

I bought the Taylor Swift and Sam Smith albums this week. I figure I’ll be needing some music distractions soon.

My friend, Diana, sent me this video. I’ve decided it’s my new theme song.

My kids and I named my tumor “Voldemort”. It made them laugh and we all get a kick out of saying that Mom’s going to kick Voldemort’s ass.

I am determined to stay positive and not lose my sense of humor or become bitter through this whole thing. I’ve been making cancer jokes and I think they’re quite funny. It helps. Like someone brought me a coffee the other day, along with a sweet hug and kind words, and I jokingly said to my work-wife Ashley…Cancer Perk! If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry, right?

The love and support my family and I have felt this week has been overwhelming. There aren’t big enough words to say thank you. It helps to know we are loved and people are praying for us.

What made you happy this week?

Good Thoughts and Prayers Requested

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I haven’t written in a while because I’ve been waiting and waiting on some test results and couldn’t form thoughts or write about the what-ifs without driving myself insane.

Well, there’s no easy way to say this, I got results today and I have breast cancer.

I. Have. Breast. Cancer.

It still doesn’t seem real. I’m 38. No family history. I had all of my kids before the age of 30 and I breastfed them all. It just happened. I still can’t believe it.

I went in for my annual OBGYN check up two weeks ago and she felt a lump. I was shocked. I do self exams, but I never felt it. So I went last week (after almost 10 days of waiting I might add) for a diagnostic mammogram. They found another suspicious area in my other breast. So I had three biopsies last Thursday. I got the results today. Invasive ductal carcinoma, grade 1. That’s the good news. If you’re going to get breast cancer, this is the one to get. It’s common, treatable and we caught it super early. Thank God. All good news, right? I have an appointment at the University of Michigan on Monday where we will get more results and a treatment plan. I’m definitely having surgery and possibly radiation and chemo. I still can’t believe those words are part of my vocab right now.

We are in shock. And scared. And angry. And in disbelief. We told the boys but not Olivia because we don’t think she’ll understand since I don’t look sick at all. We’ll tell her as things roll along. The boys were upset but they’re OK. I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. I worry about them the most. Hopefully it won’t be as bad for them as I imagine. The worst part for me is putting all of this burden on my family and my friends. I know what it’s like to feel helpless and want to do something, ANYTHING, but there’s not much you can do.

Luckily, we’ve been in a similar spot before. This is similar to what it felt like when we got Olivia’s diagnosis. Very similar. And that turned out more than OK. We’re stronger because of it. We will be a stronger family because of this too.

We are so lucky to be surrounded by so much love and support. Our families are close, we have wonderful friends and coworkers and we will be surrounded with love and support at every turn. Thank God.

We would really appreciate if you would pray and send good thoughts. Pretty please. Prayers or good thoughts or good juju or whatever you believe in that I will heal and my family and friends will be OK. I have WAY too much life left to live so I’m not going anywhere!!!

Thank you.

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